Why do we keep doing what is not working? Housing edition.

This week driving to my child's school I passed by one of my favorite properties and was heartbroken.  A massive sign was out front, where months ago there had been no driveway, just open land.  It was advertising the homes that were going to be put in starting at the 300s.  I felt heartbroken.

I have loved and admired this space ever since I saw it.  It is one of my favorite areas in Charlotte (though it is technically outside of it) driving by.  And now, it is going to be another development.  No more hill, no more grassy plain, no more cute red farmhouse at the top, and likely no tree next to it either.  

I know it is impractical because I never would have had enough to buy a property like this and get it to be a farm.  Heck.  It never even had a for sale sign out front, so who knows how that even works.  But I still dreamt about being able to put a farm up there or a cohousing space.  It just stinks.

Also this week I was told that my family is considering selling some land, and a house on a lake.  We do not use the space often, and there is a lot of maintenance that needs to be done, so it is a good idea to consider selling.  But I know exactly who will buy it.  A developer.  I know because that is exactly what happened right next door.

And I though I don't know how to fix it, I am going to dig deeper into cohousing and see if I can at least be a small part of finding a better way to do this.


House hunting?

We moved into our home in 2010.  There are a few things that are not ideal.  We want more space to garden, and our home has trees on it's little lot.  We are DIY people and there is no garage or mud room... Which was not a problem until we had kids and now the extra bedrooms function as bedrooms not project spaces.  Our family also lives out of town so it would be lovely to have a space where they could stay when visiting (currently we have one, but when the kids need their own space it gets to be a bedroom again).  And we really want a big central kitchen, ours is an ok size and slightly isolated.

We have been looking on and off at houses, mostly the last three years, when I found a cash only house which was 12 acres with a pond.  My parents would love a project house (a farm would be ideal) and we would have paid our mortgage to them.  Any way that fell through, and I look every so often now.

I found one this weekend.  I drove by, and came home.  "I think I might have found our house."  We all drove by to take a look, and called the realtor on the sign.  There were so many things about this house that were wonderful and ideal.  But in the end it just was not right for us.  One of it's biggest flaws is that it is in an industrial area so there are no neighbors for our kids to play with.  

I did find myself wondering, if I am a minimalist why am I looking at a bigger house?  

I think the answer is while we enjoy our house, it does not quite work for us.  So I will keep looking.

This weekend I am planning on attending a co-housing meeting.  I will be very curious to see how it goes. I have been interested in the idea for a while, and clearly we are wanting something different than what we have.  I look forward to checking it out.


Lots of mess. Ideas for later.

I started with a new podcast today.  Loaded stitcher onto my first smart phone that I got a few months ago with Ting (alternative phone service if you are curious I can send you a link).

I am also unpacking from a camping trip that got cut off because our tent is around 15 years old and was touching the rainfly so it leaked.  So my house is a mess, which I am in the middle of fixing.  It gives me an idea for a future post, about being honest regarding how messy my home is on a daily basis, and how bad it gets when things are going on.

Also it gives me some ideas about how privilege effects the ability to discard just in case items.  Like our tent.

Also since listening to The Minimalists podcast again, I really think that they would find a lot of value in a non-violent communications class.  I find myself listening to some of their replies and feel concerned that the caller might not feel heard.  There is a lot of information coming across, I wonder if it is helpful to the listener.

Ok, but for now, back to cleaning my mess.


How to respond to critics = crickets

I just listened to +The Minimalists 055 Critics.  I was not expecting to find it relevant to me, as though sometimes I would like to create, I do not define myself as a creator (perhaps I have not yet found the bravery and boldness to do so.)  I thought their approach was a good one, and found myself empathising with Fields Millburn and his responses to critics.  Once they got to the quote from Theodore Roosevelt though I made the connection to my own life.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

This quote, made the episode much more relevant for me.  While I am not a creator I am an activist.  I do my best to keep up with local issues and show up to as many events as I can that call for change where there are problems and discrimination.  There are lots of people who oppose what we are doing strongly and vociferously, and lately I occasionally find myself in the comments section on a article for a project I participated in and read (and argue with) the criticism that is there.  It takes a huge amount of energy.  Now I am going to think of those crickets before getting into those conversations (or even reading the hatred that people have posted.). I will post my positive, constructive comment to combat the hate, then think of crickets.  The people on the internet don't show up.  They don't come to the meetings or town halls or demonstrations.  They may drive around our demonstrations (and occasionally through) and be inconvenienced, but they don't bother to park get out of their cars and walk over to engage in a dialogue, so why should I spend my energy seeking out to engage them on the Internet.

So thanks guys.  I am going to think of crickets.


Jobs -wandering mess

Ok, part of what makes me a hot mess is my resume.

I did the regular work study stuff and joined the army reserves doing logistics and graduated from college.  Since then I have kinda wandered.  I never really used my major other than teaching abroad.  I taught and worked in a vet clinic in the states.

Then we moved and I had kids.  So, I don't know what to do now.  I keep reading books.  Trying to figure out what I might be good at.  Find out what my priorities are and the best way to accomplish them.  I feel like I was supposed to discover this in college, but I walked in thinking I knew what I wanted to do, so never wandered around much.

I just got a job at a tea shop that I love, and yesterday I found myself writing in a notebook what I want to do and the possible paths I can see to accomplish it because I am wandering.  Then I started thinking about minimalism... I think I may need a few more days to process and consider where that fits in.


So I am re-starting a new iteration of this blog.  I have gone from Lifelong Procrastinator (which I still am), to Skinny Couch Potato (which applies some of the time and occasionally most of the time), and now Hot Mess Minimalist.

I have been curious about minimalism, and have never been much of a collector for most of my life, but only in the last few years, and even more in the last couple months I been reading and learning about the philosophies of minimalism.  I stared with a couple shows on the radio, eventually  borrowed the Marie Kondo book, and recently have started with The Minimalists, which has lead to lots of other resources.

Today my husband sent me a link to one of Jenny Mustard's videos.  I watched it, a 30 day or 4 week plan to become a minimalist.  She talked a bit about aesthetics.  How she is attracted to spaces that are clean and white and bright.  If what you like is spaces filled with color and fluffy pillows you should do that.

As I was sitting in the stairwell, avoiding my kids looking at my yellow door, and newly purchased winter welcome mat, I started wondering about this.  My esthetics... I have no flippin clue.  I currently do not work, I live in a house, modest, worth around 100K (and no it is not a cardboard box because I live in Charlotte), with a wonderful husband who works his tail off with a PhD to earn 60K a year.  We kinda just try to live within our means in a place that hasn't fallen down yet.  I haven't given a lot of thought to aesthetics.

After a while of thinking about this, it occurs to me that I am probably not the only one.  Listening to The Minimalists podcasts there are people from across the economic and lifestyle spectrum.  I am sure I am not the only one staring at my messy house, who still considers myself a minimalist.  Sometimes the things that bring us joy take up space.  Like cooking or camping, or creating art (especially upcycling), or bicycling.  And not everyone has a garage.  So sometimes minimalists look a little different.

Then there are kids.  They are complex, they add a lot to a house.  After a few years, often that ends up being a lot of stuff too.  And if you are taking cues from your kids, and working with them to reduce you have to have some degree of flexibility on what your common space looks like.

So I figured I would start this blog up again.  Because my house, my yard, my car, and my life look quite messy, but I have strong minimalist leanings.  I am sharing my experience for those who might feel similarly, or others who are curious about what exactly minimalism can look like.

Uh... for reference in case anyone every reads this and wants or needs it:
Marie Kondo- http://tidyingup.com/
The Minimalists- http://www.theminimalists.com/
Jenny Mustard-http://jennymustard.com/minimalism-how-to-become-a-minimalist-the-30-day-challenge/

#minimalist #messy


One Month Ago

I need to alter this blog, as Nugget is out! He was born about a month ago, so the gestational diabetes is gone, though some habits still remain. I hope to continue to check labels, and have been trying to balance carbs, fat and protein. I'm looking forward to starting running, but for now I'm trying to get use to my new sleep schedule, and am mostly recovered from giving birth to the little one.

The whole experience was pretty good, considering it's suppose to be one of the hardest most painful things that a woman can experience. I actually chose Nugget's birthday, he was past his due date and I had been 3cm dilated for two weeks so I scheduled with my OB to be inducted as there wasn't any additional risk over going into labor naturally. So my husband and I went in to the hospital, they began pitocin by about 8AM, broke my water at about noon, and Nugget was born at 4PM. They weren't expecting him that early but I was walking around the maternity ward as much as I could, then changed positions as often as possible when I couldn't walk anymore. I didn't have any intervention other than the pitocin, so I yelled a lot probably starting at around 3. Apparently I had been having contractions before arriving at the hospital I just wasn't aware of them. Even until they broke my water I thought the contractions were pretty mild. Once the contractions were close together though, and I only got a few seconds of a break, they felt pretty bad.

I've read some things that other people have written about their birth experience and wanted to put mine out there. I chose to induced, because one of the OBs I saw encouraged it in part because if I didn't get it the following week I would have to have a non-stress test the next week. I also wasn't having any contractions that I knew of, just some suspected Braxton-Hicks and I didn't even really know if I'd had any of those, and I didn't want the little guy getting too much bigger before coming out. I would do it again if I was as dilated. His head grew an additional inch at his one week checkup. No thank you.
I also chose not to use other drugs. My mom had a negative experience with and epidural when she had me, and I thought I could probably do it, so my crazy butt tried it. I didn't take any classes to prep for the baby except CPR, I just read some about breathing techniques and positions for labor online. But then I'm crazy, I've gone through basic training for the army, and been hit by a car. I thought that I could take it on, and this time I was right.

The way our hospital worked they kept you in the hospital for two nights after giving birth. The first night the nurses told me to sleep and not worry about feeding. I had read you are suppose to feed every three hours, and so I thought it was really important that I try to feed him every time he woke up. That was true, it's good to try when they wake up, but that first night they are exhausted, and still have a body full of crap. The hospital staff gives the baby a bath and swaddles them up tight. I should have gone to sleep. I woke up every few hours because of being uncomfortable and would try to feed him. At some point he spat up, and I pushed the nurse call button. They came in and let me know that spitting up was completely normal, they are pushing everything out of their system. Doing it again, if he woke up crying or fussing I'd feed him but not every time I woke up and he seemed unsettled. Besides the nurses will come in every few hours to get blood or other things, so when they do you can feed the baby. Other than that, sleep.
The day was good. The baby got circumcised, checked by a pediatrician, and I saw a lactation consultant, had my blood checked, and asked the nurse any questions that came up during the day. Night two was a monster. I would feed the baby and the second I put him down he would cry. At one point I ended up crying myself because he wouldn't latch, and was hungry. The hospital had a sheet about the second night in the folder they gave moms, basically saying it was going to be nuts, and recommendations for how to get the baby to sleep. Plus I'm pretty sure the nurses would walk around and if they heard a baby screaming for a while they would go in to help out the poor family trying to figure out what to do.

I really don't like being at the hospital, but I was glad to have the support there when I needed it, and wouldn't have done it any other way.
I had an easy time with labor and delivery, which is unlike other experiences I've read about, but I also didn't have an immediate attachment to my baby. He was still this foreign critter, who I could barely fathom came out of me. I constantly was just surprised that I'd given birth, and confused about how to fix the babies cries (so having nurses, and my husband around to help was great). I was an attentive parent, but not an enamored one. I think that's slowly changing.

For those of you who are pregnant or looking at becoming parents, I would recommend listening to other people's advice and experiences, but just don't dwell on much of it too long. Every person, every baby and every experience is different.